February 1, 1858 – The Douglas Law goes into effect in New Westminster, British Columbia, requiring prospective miners to obtain licenses in order to search for gold in the Fraser Valley. February 2, 1899 – An Act of the Washington State Legislature changes the name of Gilman (previously Squak) to Issaquah. In the 1860s, Euro-American settlers adopted the name Squak, a mispronunciation of the name “Is-qu-ah” used by the approximately 200 Native Americans who lived in the area. In 1889, residents renamed it Gilman to honor Daniel Hunt Gilman, a promoter of the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad, which transported coal from the nearby Gilman Mines. Ten yearslater, the Gilman Town Council successfully petitions the legislature for the name change to Issaquah, which was closer to the original name Is-qu-ah, meaning snake.
February 3, 1933 – The world-famous aviator Amelia Earhart Seattle and delivers two lectures at the Civic Auditorium under sponsorship of the Woman’s Century Club, and is part of herlecture tour supporting sales of her second autobiographical book. Marking her second visit to Seattle since becoming a public figure, this is the she only time she would present public lectures, which, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, attracted thousands of men, women, and children.
February 4, 1999 – With a storm approaching the Panamanian-flagged dry bulk freighter New Carissa, Captain Benjamin Morgado decides to anchor for the night near Coos Bay, Oregon, but runs aground, spilling 70,000 gallons of oil which kills thousands of sea birds and leaves Oregon with an uncoordinated series of cleanups and lawsuits. After tens of millions of dollars of fines, settlements, and demolition costs, the last pieces of the New Carissa would be removed from the beach in September, 2008.
February 5, 1846 – The first edition of the”Oregon Spectator” is released, marking the first printed newspaper to be published on the west coast of North America.
February 6, 1947 – A railroad tank car at Alaskan Way and Columbia Street in Seattle, Washington ruptures a hose and spills more than 1,000 gallons of corn sweetener onto the street across from Ivar’s Acres of Clams Restaurant on Pier 54. Ever mindful of an opportunity to promote his restaurant, Ivar Haglund leaps into action. He quickly orders a stack of pancakes and dons a pair of hip boots. When news photographers and reporters arrive at the scene they find Haglund, famed for his folksinging, storytelling, and eccentric escapades, squatting in a lake of corn sweetener, spooning the syrup onto his plate of pancakes. When the photo is picked up by wire services, “The Great Syrup Spill of 1947” and “the crown prince of corn” become news around the world.
February 7, 1841 –Willamette Valley settlers hold the first of a series of meetings in Champoeg, a former town (now a state park) on the banks of the Willamette about 5 miles southeast of Newberg, Oregon. The topic of discussion at that first meeting was what to do with all the cattle and land belonging to terminally ill wealthy pioneer Ewing Young, who had no will or heir. Subsequent meetings over the next few years toss around the topic of forming a government, and in 1843 they vote to establish the Oregon Country provisional government.
February 8, 1952 – The Frye Art Museum opens in Seattle, Washington. The wills of the local meatpacker Charles Frye and his wife Emma (Lamp) Frye direct their executors to create a free public museum to exhibit their private collection of mostly nineteenth-century German Romantic paintings. Located at 704 Terry Avenue on Seattle’s First Hill, the museum building was designed byPaul Thiry, one of Washington’s most illustrious architects and a major influence in the emergence of the “Northwest style” of architecture. The museum is redesigned in 1997, and reopens with its first professional leadership, led by Richard West. Since 2001, attendance has reached more than 100,000 visitors each year.
February 9, 1969 – First test flight of the Boeing 747, with test pilots Jack Waddell and Brien Wygle at the controls and Jess Wallick at the flight engineer’s station. Despite a minor problem with one of the flaps, the flight confirms that the 747 handles extremely well. The 747 is found to be largely immune to “Dutch roll”, a phenomenon that had been a major hazard to the early swept-wing jets. The 747, often referred to by its original nickname “Jumbo Jet” or “Queen of the Skies” is the first wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport aircraft ever produced, and holds the passenger capacity record for 37 years.
February 10, 1909– The Palace Theater in Vancouver, Washington opens. Located at 605 Main Street, the venue offers six one-reel silent films per show, with an admission price of 10 cents per person. The Palace was owned and managed by C. Engleman, who equipped the house with a Wurlitzer piano/organ costing $2,200, along with something called a “flute-electric piano” that cost an additional $1,000. These two features were in addition to the house’s regular musical accompaniment, provided by a full-time pianist and taps drummer. Engleman constantly strove to improve the Palace, which seated 381. He claimed to have made $3,000 worth of improvements during the first four years he owned the theater.
February 11, 1978– Pacific Western Airlines Flight 314, a Boeing 737-200, crashes at Cranbrook/Canadian Rockies International Airport, near Cranbook, British Columbia, killing 42 of the 49 people on board. The scheduled flight from Edmonton International Airport to Castlegar Airport via Calgary, Alberta and Cranbrook, British Columbia crashed after its thrust reversers did not fully stow following an aborted landing to avoid a snowplow on the runway. Calgary air traffic control was considerably in error in its calculation of the Cranbrook arrival time, and the flight crew did not report while passing a beacon on final approach.
February 12, 2010 – The 21st Winter Olympics are held in Vancouver, BC, with some events held in the suburbs of Richmond, West Vancouver and the University Endowment Lands, and in the resort town of Whistler. The sixteen day event sees approximately 2,600 athletes from 82 nations participated in 86 events in fifteen disciplines.
February 13, 1979 – An intense windstorm strikes western Washington and sinks a 1/2-mile-long section of the Hood Canal Bridge.
February 14, 1946 – The Black Ball ferry Kalakala begins using a navy-model marine radar set on its Seattle-Bainbridge Island run, marking the first-ever commercial use of radar on a ship anywhere in the world. Coincidently, this is the same day that a sizable 5.8 earthquake hits Puget Sound.
February 15, 2000 – Twenty members of the Suquamish Tribe travel by water to participate in a clam dig at Erland Point in Bremerton, Washington, marking the first native commercial clam dig on private non-First Nation land since 1994 when Californian District Judge Edward Rafeedie upheld First Nations rights to fish and take shellfish from “usual and accustomed grounds” as specified in the 1855 Point No Point Treaty. Tribal members harvest about 2,000 pounds of Manila clams with claw-hooked forks in moonlight in the tidal flats of the Dyes Inlet in front of the home of Robert and Sharon Tucker. They then sell the clams to Chuck Dahman, a dealer from Clam Acres, who sells them to retail outlets in Hawaii.
February 16, 1893 – The East Side Railway Company’s electric line between Portland and Oregon City, one of the first interurban electric railways in North America, formally opens, and will run for 65 years.
February 17, 1875 – According to local legend, the Florence, a French sailing vessel allegedly wrecks at the mouth of the Siuslaw River near modern-day Florence, Oregon.
February 18, 1983 – Thirteen people die and one is seriously injured in the Wah Mee Massacre in Seattle, Washington. It is said to be the largest robbery-motivated mass-murder in Washington’s history.
February 19, 1858 – Nisqually Chief Leschi is hanged on a gallows at Fort Steilacoom, for the “murder” of American Colonel A. Benton Moses. Chief Leschi’s attorneys argued firstly that Leschi had not actually been the one to kill Colonel Moses, and secondly that Colonel Moses was killed during warfare (in which there were casualties on both sides), requiring that his accused killer should not be tried in a civilian court. It wouldn’t be until 2004 that the Washington State Senate formally recognized “the injustice which occurred in 1858 with the trial and execution of Chief Leschi” and honored Chief Leschi as “a courageous leader” and “a great and noble man”.
February 20, 1930 – The Canadian government transfers control over crown lands and natural resources within British Columbia from the federal government to the provincial government under the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement.
February 21, 1979 – Ferry service returns to Port Townsend, Washington after a 40-year absence. The ferry Kaleetan performs the run between Port Townsend (located on the northeast point of the Olympic Peninsula at the entrance to Puget Sound) and Edmonds, north of Seattle. It is the first ferry to do so since the Chetzemoka had the route in 1939. At the time, the run was unprofitable, but by 1979 more residents and tourists wishing to travel to the Olympic Peninsula made the route a necessity for Washington ferries. The new run was inaugurated eight days after part of the Hood Canal Bridge sank during a severe storm.
February 22, 1897 – The Olympic Forest Reserve, the forerunner to Olympic National Park, is created by presidential proclamation, placing 2,188,800 acres, nearly two thirds of the Olympic Peninsula, under government control. While applauded, the forest reserves were not universally popular. Denouncing the act as”impetuous” and worse, American newspapers claimed that the proclamation would sabotage the system that made the American empire great. In 1900 and 1901, U.S. President William McKinley issued counter proclamations reducing the size of the reserve by more than 700,000 acres. Administration officials asserted that the excluded land was more suited for farming than timber, but the timber companies quickly used it. Controversy would last for years as conservationists continued to press for protection of the Olympic Peninsula wilderness. Mount Olympus National Monument was created in 1909, and Olympic National Park in 1938.
February 23, 1969 – The first scheduled hovercraft service in North America begins between Vancouver and Nanaimo.
February 24, 1893 – The New Whatcom Normal School, a teachers’ school for women, is established by Phoebe Judson in Lynden, Washington. Eventually the school would be moved to Bellingham (then “New Whatcom”). Through the efforts of William R. Moultray and George Judson, Washington Governor John McGraw signed legislation establishing the New Whatcom Normal School, which would one day become Western Washington University.
February 25, 1910 – A grand stairway that mounts Capitol Hill from Seattle’s Cascade neighborhood, known as the Republican Hill Climb, is completed. Located between Eastlake Avenue at the bottom and just east of Melrose Avenue at the top, the stairway mounted the hill in three sections. At the top of each section there was a landing and the barrier of a curving wall where the stair split into two to circumvent it, becoming one stair again on the other side. The Republican Hill Climb remains in use for 50 years,
serving as an invigorating connection between the two neighborhoods, until the two lower sections were removed in the construction of Interstate 5 in the 1960s.
February 26, 1942 – Under the War Measures Act, the Canadian government begins shipping 21,000 Cascadians of Japanese descent from coastal regions of British Columbia to work camps in the BC interior.
February 27, 1934 – Paul Pigott and a group of Seattle investors buy Pacific Car and Foundry back from American Car Manufacturing Company. Pacific Car and Foundry had been founded by William Pigott, Paul Pigott’s father, as Seattle Car Manufacturing Co. in 1905. In 1924, the stockholders sold the company to American Car Manufacturing Co., which operated the Renton and Portland plants under the Pacific Car name. The new business was at first profitable, but a decline in the demand for railroad rolling stock, followed by the Great Depression, was devastating to the company. Over the following decade saw employment drop from 1500 to 125, with work irregular and wages and salaries cut, and the plant was left unattended. When a Seattle banker asked Pigott, “What are you buying that rust pile for?” Pigott replied, “Because I think I should furnish employment to the extent that I can.” Pigott worked hard to increase company performance and he plowed profits back into plant improvements. The company expanded, acquiring both the Seattle firm Kenworth Motor Truck Corp., the Everett Pacific Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company during World War II, and Peterbilt Trucks in 1958. In 1972, the Company changed its name to PACCAR Inc., and today is the third largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks in the world.
February 28, 1901 – Cascadian chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, and educator Linus Carl Pauling is born in Portland, Oregon. One of the most influential chemists in history and among the most important scientists of the 20th century, Pauling was one of the first scientists to work in the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology. Pauling is one of only four individuals to have won more than one Nobel Prize, one of only two people awarded Nobel Prizes in different fields (the Chemistry and Peace prizes), and the only person awarded two unshared prizes.
February 29, 1948 – Captain Alexander Peabody, president of the Puget Sound Navigation Company (Black Ball Line), ceases operating the ferry system after talks break down with the state government, which refused to grant Peabody’s request for a 30 percent increase in rider fares. Stating that he no longer has the money to operate the ferry system, Peabody orders the fleet tied up. For nine days, the state scrambles to provide cross-sound transportation to tens of thousands of commuters, and seriously begins steps to start a state-run ferry system of its own.